6 Tips for Organizing Your Medication
How often you take your medication may be a life or death decision – and we’re not just referring to when you may forget to take pills. About 60 percent of seniors take incorrect doses of their medication and about 140,000 seniors die every year because of it. Organizing your medication is imperative to ensure you’re not overdosing or taking pills that may interfere with one another.
An AARP survey found that more than 80 percent of seniors take at least two prescription drugs per day and more than 50 percent take at least four. That’s a lot of pills to keep track of!
Use these six tips to improve the ease and accuracy of taking your medications.
Organize your pills by day.
Get into a habit of presorting your pills for the upcoming week(s) by storing them in some sort of pill dispenser or organizer. You can find all sorts of these products online or in pharmacies. There are pill organizers that will store a month’s worth of pills and ones with separate a.m. and p.m. compartments. Find the type of pill organizer that will work best for you and use it consistently. This will greatly increase your chances of taking all of the pills you need each day, as well as reduce the likelihood that you accidentally overdose.
Get a medication app.
Take advantage of technology and download our medication app to set up a schedule for when you need to take certain pills and to help you with reminders. There are tons of free apps for this. Some also serve as an educational resource by providing information about medications. If you’re comfortable with your mobile phone, you should give this a try.
Craft a prescription chart.
Keep a detailed chart about all of your medications, whether you do it by hand or use Microsoft Excel on your computer. On this chart, list the medications, what the pills look like, the dosages, how often they should be taken, what the medication is for, if it should be taken with food or water, if it should not be taken with another type of medication or supplement and if any of the pills cause any side effects. This chart can serve as a reference for you or caregivers. You should also use the chart when you organize your pills
Make a list.
Make a list of all the medications you take and how often (or use the above-mentioned chart), and bring it to you when you go to doctor appointments and pharmacy trips. This will ensure that your doctor and pharmacist can check to make sure that none of the prescriptions will interfere with each other. (Tip: It’s best to use one pharmacy to get all of your prescriptions filled, so the pharmacist knows what medications are going into your body and can warn you immediately if you were prescribed something that isn’t compatible with something else you take.)
Be on top of refills.
Mark your calendar or set reminders for when you need to order refills on prescriptions. If your pharmacy offers a reminder service or an auto-refill service, utilize it, because it will reduce the chances for human error. Make arrangements to have prescriptions mailed to you if transportation is a challenge. The fewer obstacles in the way between you and your medication, the better.
Make sure the bottle’s label provides adequate information.
When you get your pills from the pharmacy, make sure that the label on the bottle explains why you need to take the medication. This will help ensure that you are taking the medication properly and this can also help you or caregivers recognize if you were given multiple medications for one ailment. Also, take note of the expiration dates and don’t use drugs past their expirations.
It’s important for seniors to remain as organized and knowledgeable as possible when it comes to their medications – their lives depend on it. Don’t be shy from using the resources at hand. For more information for seniors, check out Scripps Affiliated Medical Groups’ articles.